Fireworks bring a boom in injury related hospital visits each year. Remember remember to be safe this November!
As Bonfire Night is fast approaching, there will undoubtedly be thousands of people enjoying some firework fun. However, no matter how pretty and thrilling these fireworks can be, there is also the serious side of these official and private events to consider. Fireworks are explosives that can reach speeds of 150mph and they burn at nearly 2000 degrees Celsius which can cause serious burns if not handled with extreme care. Sadly, there are hundreds of injuries each year which require first aid treatment or even a visit to hospital for more serious injuries. It is therefore important that we know how to use fireworks safely so that we can all enjoy them without incident.
Fireworks law in the UK
It’s against the law to set off fireworks between 11pm and 7am, with exception to Bonfire Night, New Year’s Eve, Chinese New Year and Diwali.
It is an offence to set off fireworks or use sparklers in the street or throw them in a public place.
You can only buy fireworks and sparklers from registered sellers. They must be for private use (i.e. at home) and they can only be used on these dates:
- 15th October to 10th November
- 26th December to 31st December
- Three days before Chinese New Year
- Three days before Diwali
Those looking to buy fireworks and sparklers outside of these dates (e.g. for a special occasions such as a birthday) can do so only from licensed shops.
If you sell or misuse fireworks illegally then you could be fined up to £5,000 or imprisoned for up to 6 months.
- Plan your firework display to make it safe and enjoyable, and check the time you can legally set off fireworks.
- Only set off fireworks outdoors, away from houses and fire hazards such as tall grass, dry leaves, and other fireworks.
- Only buy fireworks from a reputable retailer and make sure they conform to British Safety Standards and carry the CE mark.
- Read and follow the instructions on each firework and use them one at a time.
- Light the firework at arm’s length with a taper and stand well back.
- Keep naked flames, including cigarettes, away from fireworks.
- Never return to a firework once it has been lit.
- Don’t put fireworks in pockets and never throw them.
- Don’t drink alcohol if you are responsible for discharging them.
- Keep a bucket of water nearby for emergency purposes, and soak any used or misfired fireworks before discarding to prevent fires or accidental ignitions.
- Have a first aid kit to hand.
- Never let children use fireworks without adult supervision. Even seemingly harmless fireworks such as sparklers still burn at high temperatures and can cause severe burns if used improperly.
Firework injury claims
If you have been injured as a result of an organised or private firework display and your injuries weren’t your fault, then you may be able to make a personal injury compensation claim. The types of injuries that you could make a claim for include:
- Full or partial sight loss
- Hearing damage
- Psychological injuries
If you are injured at an organised firework display, the organiser is liable for the injuries and subsequent losses that you suffer as a spectator.
If you are injured at a private firework display, the person letting off the fireworks is liable for your injuries, however, that person is unlikely to carry any insurance which can make a claim harder to pursue but it may still be possible.
If you sustain a firework injury that was not your fault, then it is important to seek expert legal advice in relation to making a claim.
If you were injured because someone threw a firework at you deliberately, this could amount to a criminal offence and you should contact the police immediately. The Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme provides financial compensation to those injured by dangerous/criminal behaviour.